In a recent development on a story we reported on in September, the US$1.5 million Buddha statue stolen from a Beverly Grove-area gallery has been successfully recovered.* A suspect has been apprehended on suspicion of receiving stolen property, according to the Los Angeles Police Department.
The 113-kilogram (250-pound) statue, which measures 1.25 meters (4 feet) in height, was stolen in the early morning hours of 18 September from the Barakat Gallery. Less than two weeks later, it was found in a truck and a suspect, Justin Livick, 44, was taken into custody. He was cited and later released, according to authorities.
The precise location of the statue’s discovery remains undisclosed. It also remains unclear who was responsible for the initial theft. Police said that it was unclear whether Livick stole the statue or received it from a third party. The theft was caught on camera, though images from the scene did not include clear facial features of the suspect.
Gallery owner Fayez Barakat expressed his immense attachment to the statue, revealing that it hails from Japan’s Edo Period (1603–1867) and is believed to have been created by the artist Tadazou Iinuma.
The thief, captured on surveillance footage, had broken into the gallery through a driveway gate and used a dolly to transport the statue onto a truck within just 25 minutes.
Barakat shared his emotional response to the theft, stating, “I had it in the backyard of my home, and when I moved into this gallery, I put it in the backyard of the gallery for everybody to admire and enjoy.” (Spectrum News 1)
Barakat added that he was heartbroken by the theft.
Paul Henderson, the director of Barakat’s Los Angeles location, expressed his surprise at the audacity of the theft, given the statue’s significant weight. He mentioned that the sculpture is a high-value, unique, temple sculpture from the Edo Period, which would be challenging to resell on the market.
The stolen statue has an inscription that translates to “Produced by Tadazou Iinuma, first year of Shouho, Kanoe. Prayed for and requested by Ryozen, master of Shingon religious party, Dainichi-Nyorai, Yudo-no-San Temple, of the highest social class.” This inscription suggests that it was likely commissioned by a religious official named Ryozen and was once placed at the Yudo-no-San Temple, a holy site on Japan’s Mount Yudono. (Spectrum News 1)
Barakat expressed hope that the thief understood the historical and cultural value of the statue and that it was not stolen merely for its bronze weight.
In addition to its Los Angeles location, Barakat Gallery has galleries in Hong Kong, Seoul, and London.
Authorities have encouraged anyone with information about the theft to contact the Los Angeles Police Department at 1-877-275-5273.
Stolen $1.5M Buddha statue recovered; suspect arrested but released (Spectrum News 1)
Arrest Made in Theft of Statue of Buddha Valued at $1.5 Million (People)
$1.5M Buddha Statue Stolen From LA Gallery (Hyperallergic)
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